Featured in Beyond the Blues

Depression: The Silent Shadow

Coping With a Quietly Devastating Disorder

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"It’s hard to even write when I’m this depressed. I can’t cry, I can’t eat. I can’t do anything. I feel so hopeless and so alone. I have the weight of the world in my soul. All I want to do is sleep, just to get away from everything. I feel trapped. I’m thinking about pills. Lord Jesus, I’m thinking about pills. Help me not to think about pills. I feel so alone, Lord. Who can I talk to about this? Will You even talk to me? I’m falling. Help"

I discovered this journal entry in my computer this morning. I had entitled it "detachment." It was written two years ago next month, ten days before my 22nd birthday.

I didn't feel confused until I saw the date posted next to my OpenOffice document. Two years ago? Hadn't I pretty much beaten my depression by then? Why I was I still so down in the dumps, even after I had improved so much?

In every healing process, there is progress, and there is slipping back. I have made so much progress. I've developed positive self-talk and I try to refute irrational negative thoughts when they appear. I am a generally happy person now, able to smile when I couldn't before. I am a Christian, and so my faith keeps me afloat as well. God heals and nurtures my soul every day. All of these things can lead me to believe that perhaps I've finally beaten it. Perhaps that wicked ghost will finally leave me alone.

Then, the slipping back. Depression covers me like a veil, and I can't breathe. My chest tightens up. My heart weighs a thousand pounds all of a sudden, sagging under the weight of my own burdens, as well as everyone else's because I am an empathetic person. Those are the days of cancelled plans, of missed meals, of piles of laundry that I just don't feel like putting away, of calls and texts I just don't feel like returning.

Then I usually realize that it didn't hit me as suddenly as I thought. I stopped cleaning my room a few weeks before this. The pile of dishes in my sink has been there even longer. I'd been wondering why my motivation to write or dance had dried up, or why I'd been choosing to stay in and sleep instead of get out of my apartment and go somewhere.

Here's the glimmer of hope, though. Two steps forward and one step back is still a step forward. That's something one of my best friends once said to me and I still remember it to this day. Each time the slipping back happens, it's this sentiment that keeps me from going back over the edge completely. Even if I feel like a failure in that moment, I still took that step forward. This allows me to take another one. And another. And another. Until, slowly, I begin to feel like myself again.

I urge whoever is reading this not to give up on yourself. Depression is something to be fought, like any other disease. And you can fight it. Every time I come through a low day, I'm a little more prepared for the next one. I get stronger, but I also get more compassionate. More gentle. Closer to God, and closer to my loved ones. And that shadow gets smaller and thinner, little by little.

My advice: draw close to those who love you. Give yourself grace. And, most importantly, keep going.

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Depression: The Silent Shadow
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